In D&D 5e, Shadow dragons have the following abilities (among others):

  • resistance to necrotic damage always, and resistance to all other forms of damage except force, psychic and radiant, when in dim light or darkness.

  • can Hide as a bonus action when in dim light or darkness.

  • it has sunlight sensitivity (disadvantage on attack rolls and Perception checks involving sight when in sunlight).

In other words, they have abilities that affect them when they are in sunlight, and abilities that affect them when they are in dim light and darkness.

This brings me to this odd case I've encountered in a recent game. Here's an example to explain.

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The dragon, a huge creature who occupies multiple tiles, is partially in a beam of sunlight, and partially in an area of darkness. >50% of the dragon is in the dark area, which includes the center point of the dragon's token.

For the purposes of its light-condition-dependent abilities, is the dragon considered in sunlight, in darkness, both, or neither?


1 Answer 1


There is no explicit rule about how to treat it if the space of a creature is in areas of different light conditions, so I think in the end, a DM will have to adjudicate this.

If you treated areas of light like areas of spell effects, then it would suffice if any part of the dragon was in dim light or sunlight to get these effects. This would mean if any part of the dragon is in dim light, it has its resistances, and can take Hide as a bonus action, and if any part of it is in sunlight, it has disadvantage on attack rolls and sight based Wisdon (Perception) checks.

However, areas of light are not spell effects. For questions of sight a creature normally can pick any corner of the space it controls, p. 251 DMG:

To precisely determine whether there is line of sight between two spaces, pick a corner of one space and trace an imaginary line from that corner to any part of another space. If at least one such line doesn't pass through or touch an object or effect that blocks visionsuch as a stone wall, a thick curtain, or a dense cloud of fog-then there is line of sight.

And it is not clear if the disadvantage is from not being able to see in sunlight, or if it is from suffering and being distracted by exposure to sunlight.

It is hard to see how a shadow dragon could take a bonus hide action when part of its body is in bright sunlight and clearly visible -- you normally cannot hide from a creature that can see you, p. 177 PH:

You can’t hide from a creature that can see you

If I would have to rule this, I would rule that:

  • When any part of the dragon is in dim light or darkness, it enjoys resistance to damage that is not force, psychic or radiant
  • When any part of the dragon is in sunlight, it suffers disadvantage on attacks and Wisdom (Perception) checks
  • If the entire dragon is in dim light or darkness (so there isn't any part of it that can be clearly seen), it can hide as a bonus action
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think it's safe to assume that sunlight sensitivity means being partially blinded by the light, as it gives the dragon disadvantage only on Perception checks that rely on sight. If it were from distraction it would probably get disadvantage on all perception checks. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 29 at 14:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TreeSpawend Good point. So maybe one could rule that they do not get disadvantage if looking from the corner that is in shadow. But what if they then look into the light? Would that be hard for them? And would attacks on a light space have D, but ones into shadow not? It would be more complicated to handle (and remember, if one wanted to remember rather than make an ad-hoc ruling and move on). I can see a DM doing that if they think it matters, I personnally probably would rather try and keep it simple. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 29 at 14:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NobodytheHobgoblin I made a minor edit, please review as it does reverse your last statement, but I think as intended. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wyrmwood
    Commented May 30 at 13:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Wyrmwood You got it right, thank you! \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 30 at 14:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ Although it's not RAW, I'd give the dragon has disadvantage on attacks and perception when it's either fully in sunlight or is attacking/perceiving a sunlit target. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 30 at 15:50

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